After a comfortable (but somewhat short) sleep at the Montreal Marriott airport hotel, and some caffeine, everyone was somewhat rejuvenated for the next leg of the journey. Thankfully Jasmine had managed to sweet-talk the hotel staff into giving her some free internet access in the business centre, so with the presentations converted, and all luggage in hand, it was a short trip down to the departures area to finally board the last plane to Haiti.
After a 4.5 hour flight and some long naps, the island was visible… and a feeling of “Wow! We are finally here!” was pervasive…
Of course none of us knew Phillip’s address… so while Rick went out to find out (leaving the girls and his passport behind as a ‘pseudo-ransom’ so he would come back) the rest sat in the comfort of the air-conditioned Customs and Immigration office and chatted with the locals about what our trip was all about. The now familiar refrain was echoed many times by several different people “You’d best learn some kreyol then Doctor”…
Once Rick was eventually back, luggage was collected, Customs was cleared and we emerged into the bustle of the taxi rank… where we were set upon by numerous individuals intent on at minimum helping us with luggage, but preferably helping us secure a taptap (truck taxi)… After hardening our expressions we made our way out to Phillip by literally running over feet with our carts; then loading up our waiting vehicle we finally set off to do a quick shop for provisions and then to get the quick tour of Port-au-Prince on our way to Carre-four and Phillip’s house.
The shear number of UN vehicles in PaP is astounding… and it is patently obvious that they are still in the beginnings of their rebuilding stage (from the devastation of the 2010 earthquake). Many collapsed buildings have still not been touched, and roads are full of broken cement and potholes. The driving was like any other developing nation, with the attitude that if the vehicle fits, then that is the path you take. It never ceases to amaze how well they know their vehicles, and how few accidents actually occur.
On arrival at Phillip’s, we organised with our amazing driver to be available for most of the week, changed into some lighter clothing, and then breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally here. While Phillip and Rick went to secure some mangoes for dinner, Jasmine completed the presentations, and Rayna and Michelle went up to relax and read on the roof. After a dinner of mangoes and cheese, it is at last time to call it a night. That is of course if the church service next door, and the parade going down the street end sometime soon. 🙂
Take care of yourselves!